Once they all had their coffee, Kate looked at her partners and admitted, “I think we need to find and talk to an expert in South American artifacts. As much as I’d like to assume that the theft was all about the possible wealth of the artifacts broken up, or the less destructive black market in antiquities…”
“You have your doubts,” Tashir murmured. “Based on past experiences?”
“Past experiences that had nothing to do with South American artifacts, but they did have the common tie of the strange events tied in to a bigger, stranger, nastier picture. I’d rather look into it and later realize that it wasn’t necessary than be caught by surprise by…” Kate paused, thinking back on some of the events. About the Protestant vampire with a fondness for carving crosses in the faces of his victims. The pop-apart stalker. The cursed handbag that really was cursed, and resulted in the women who had it withering away. “Let’s just say that the surprises can be nasty, and what little I know about South American cultures suggests that this could be a flavor of nasty that has a high body count.”
“Considering that most of what I know can be summed up as step-pyramids, body paint, and carving the hearts out of their enemies to offer as sacrifices to their gods… a little more information might be important,” O’Rourke sighed, before adding, “And it probably won’t help us sleep well.”
“Not too much does with the freaky stuff,” Kate shook her head before sipping at the coffee. “One thing that I learned in LA – sometimes when old artifacts are stolen, it isn’t about the resale value, it’s because the person thinks they can use that thing to do stuff. Often horrible stuff. Worse is when they’re right.”
“I can see why talking to an expert could be useful,” Tashir paused before asking, “Is there anything that makes you suspect this could be more than someone just after the money?”
Kate sighed, and stared at her coffee. “First, South American artifacts were usually stone and obsidian, right? I’m not an expert on stones and gems, but… they aren’t normally that valuable, and they tend to be heavy, right? For pure value, they’d probably go for Chinese with all the gold and jade, or medieval European jewelry. Maybe the swords if they think they’ve got a collector lines up. But heavy, carved stone, and volcanic glass? It doesn’t sound like they’re in it for the money.”
“Thrill seekers who’ve been watching too many scary movies?” O’Rourke suggested, before adding “It has to be considered. Instead of accurate crazies planning on something that works, what are the chances that they’ve just seen too many scary movies or read too many of the wrong books?”
“Most of the ones recently have either been Celtic, Vatican-themed, or straight up slasher movies,” Kate shook her head. “Unfortunately. The sort that do things after too many scary movies tend to be careless.”
“And what if it’s just thrill-seekers?” Tashir looked at her.
“Then after we catch them, we all give a big sigh of relief and send the stuff back to the museum.” Kate paused, and then mumbled, “It’s probably nothing, but I had a weird dream about a guy that might have been some sort of important Aztec or some-tec guy. Body paint, feathers, and a knife made from smoky glass. That was before I heard about the robbery.”
“Hmmmm….” O’Rourke looked thoughtful.
“I want it to be nothing. Just a weird dream to let go and ignore.” Kate sighed, and sipped at her coffee again. “But I don’t think I can count on it being nothing without at least looking.”
“Fair enough. So where do we find an expert on South American cultures, and whichever one those stolen items belong to? And when do you find the time, since it wasn’t our precinct?” Tashir’s summary didn’t comfort.
Kate could only shake her head, “Good point, though I’d suggest starting at the museum. They’d know what culture the artifacts belong to, and they’d probably know who to ask for more information.”
“And in the mean time, we have our jobs to do. With things that are happening in our area,” O’Rourke reminded them.
For the first time, Kate could see some benefit to the fact that Angel was a private detective instead of a cop. He didn’t have the same considerations of precincts, and he could pick and chose what he wanted to work on. Granted, there were drawbacks to being a private investigator, and even bigger ones to being a vampire, but she could actually see an advantage in his situation. That didn’t help her mood at all.
When Kate returned to her apartment after her shift, the light of her answering machine was blinking. For a moment, she considered the light, “Who’d be calling at night? Wrong numbers and drunk dialing?”
With a shrug, she pressed the button.
:Detective Lockley, I think you may have left out a few things in your briefing about vampires,: the voice belonged to Egon Spengler of the Ghostbusters. :We ran into a few tonight and they seem to – at least on occasion – run in packs. Rather similar to feral dogs. Janine relayed your suggestion about antibiotics and Holy Water, and we have taken them. As a more pleasant note, it appears that vampires experience a decidedly exothermic reaction to high concentrations of protons…:
There was a loud comment in the background that she thought was from Winston :He means they catch fire and then explode!:
“Oh dear…” Kate shivered at the idea of those guys combined with explosions. It was far too easy to picture.
The machine gave a beep and played the next message, a slurred male voice. :Juuulie? I miss you Julie… I’m sorry that I… I’m sorry. You gotta stop ignoring me baby… Are you there, Julie?: There was a crashing noise, and then a faint, :Julie?: before the connection was broken.
Kate sighed, “Drunks missing their girlfriends.”
There was a third message, and the machine gave another click before playing it. There were drums, and some sort of bells in a rapid rhythm that she didn’t think she’d heard before but it gave her a very weird feeling. She didn’t hear any words. Then the drums stopped and there was ominous silence for a few seconds before the message stopped.
“What the hell was that?” Kate blinked at the machine. She didn’t know what it meant, or why the drumming was on her answering machine, but she didn’t like it. It also reinforced her feeling that she needed to learn more about the missing artifacts, the culture that had made them, and that whoever – or whatever – had taken them was up to trouble.
So much for pleasant dreams after that…
End part 12.